(Also see History of the Morris B. Sachs building [Part I].) tagGallagher
Guest post: Katy Gallagher
Katy Gallagher has an M.S. in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has worked as a photo researcher for historic documentary programs at the History Channel and WTTW Channel 11 Chicago. She has also worked as an archaeological conservator for the National Park Service, and as a curatorial intern for the Glessner House Museum. Katy has been a Logan Square resident for the past three years and enjoys researching structures both grand and modest in the neighborhood.
At 2800-2808 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Leichenko & Esser created for building developer Sol H. Goldberg a six-story Art Deco style building encompassing a triangular lot. Art Deco architecture is characterized by angular, linear composition, typically with a vertical emphasis, and often containing hard-edge, low relief ornamentation around door and window openings. The Morris B. Sachs flatiron building is a tremendous example of the Art Deco style (photo right*).
The top four stories fronting Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues each contain seven sets of window units — six sets of three-window units and one set of two-window units at the back — separated by vertical slabs of grey stone, the dominant building material. The slabs create a strong vertical visual effect. Atop each window are spandrels containing zigzag patterns and camels surrounded by sunbursts. This was the logo for Goldberg’s Hump Hairpin company — a camel being most famous for its hump.
Egyptian imagery was popular during the Art Deco period, and it has been speculated that it was for that reason Goldberg chose this logo, but advertisements featuring the Hump Hairpin camel (also see image at The History of the Morris B. Sachs building [Part I]) pre-date
Egyptian Revival rage. The logo appears on the floor of the building’s lobby (photo left*) and throughout the building, and has also been spotted in the foyer of another Goldberg building designed by Leichenko & Esser at 3127 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lake View.
The entire ground story was originally faced with black Swedish granite and both the ground floor and second story windows fronting Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues were cast in bronze. The space was originally designed to contain five large stores on the first floor with sales rooms installed in the basement and on the second story. The upper four stories were divided into offices. (“Sol H. Goldberg Builds Edifice on Milwaukee.” Chicago Tribune, 1929.)
The original known leases belonged to Hirsch & Co., operators of a chain of men’s clothing and furnishing establishments. Hirsch took up a 30 foot wide store on the ground floor. The Bedford Shirt company leased a 16 foot shop fronting on Milwaukee Avenue and extending back to Diversey, and the Liggett Drug Company leased the corner store. The upper floors were rented to physicians, dentists, and miscellaneous tenants. ( “Chain Concerns Lease Stores on Milwaukee Ave.” Chicago Tribune, 1930.)
Hirsch remained in the Milwaukee-Diversey location until at least 1947, at which point the property was purchased by Morris B. Sachs, a prominent Chicago clothing merchant. The building then became known as the Morris B. Sachs flatiron building. Sachs was also a philanthropist, 1955 Chicago City Treasurer, and creator of the “Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour,” a radio-turned-television program on the air from the 1930s until the 1950s. (“Way We Were.” Chicago Tribune. 1985.)
In 1950 Andrew G. Kanelos, head of Andes Candies purchased the building, although the Sachs Company continued to occupy the basement, first and second floors. (“Kanelos Building Corp Buys 6 Story Property.” Chicago Tribune. 1950.) It’s unclear when exactly the retail operation moved out of the building, but in the early 1960s
another clothing retailer, Kaufman’s, appears to have replaced it.
Besides a Payless shoe store on the first floor, the Morris B. Sachs flatiron building has sat vacant for the past 20 years.
Brinshore Development, which won the hotly contested bid to redevelop the space, has tapped Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture of Chicago to craft the conversion. The firm specializes in historic preservation, with a notable project list including the Daniel Burnham designed warehouse-turned-condos at 165 N. Canal Street and a 24-story Holabird & Root building converted into a mixed-use complex, among others. (Hartshorne Plunket Architecture.)
I encourage you to watch Brinshore Development’s treatment of what remains of Leichenko & Esser’s architectural details both inside and out. Let’s count the camels and make sure none are missing when this thing’s through!
*Present day photos of the Sachs/Payless building courtesy of fueledbycoffee on Flickr
†1944 photo from the Chicago History Museum